When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life;
for there is in London all that life can afford.
-- Samuel Johnson
While song writers seem beguiled about springtime in Paris, we found London to be equally as enchanting. It didn’t take long for this jolly ol’ capital city with a population of more than 8.5 million to wrap us in its charms during our brief visit in May.
|Those London phone booths are icons of the city|
Because we were returning to the States from Greece earlier than originally planned to deal The Scout’s, medical matter, he was tasked with finding us a reasonable and affordable routing for this rather spur-of-the-moment trip.
|Speaking of icons, there are those double-decker buses as well. . .|
The best option he found was flying via London, using some of our accumulated airline miles. (There are no direct flights between Athens and Seattle, so you need to stop somewhere. Sometimes depending on flight connections the layover could be a matter of hours and other times, overnight at least).
We purchased tickets on Aegean Airlines for our trip from Athens to London. We then used Alaska Airlines miles,a regional U.S. carrier, to fly on one of its partners, British Airlines.
Traveler’s Tip: We booked two one-way tickets London – Seattle, in Premium Economy, that rather comfortable section that isn’t quite Business Class but certainly isn’t Economy Class. The price 42,500 air miles PLUS $432US a seat in taxes and fees: (85,000 miles + $864US) AND THEN an additional $169US to select the seats we wanted to sit in – two seat side by the windows (and assure ourselves we weren’t stuck in the middle of a center row).
While all those extra $$$ were equivalent to what we would have paid for a regular economy class seat it does make one wonder about using airline miles for ‘free’ travel.
That London Stopover
|London, London, London|
It occurred to us that we could make lemonade out of the lemon he’d been handed by using some of our horded hotel points to pay for a stay at the Marriott’s Park Lane Hotel. It’s located across the street from Hyde Park,in the rather posh and privileged Mayfair District.
Traveler’s Tip: Even using discount sites, the price of a room here hovers at $500 a night, plus another $100 per night in taxes and fees. We paid nothing more for our room than 180,000 points,(which we’ve earned on previous Marriott stays and credit card spending).
Because we have stayed in Marriott hotels enough nights to qualify for their ‘elite’ level benefits, we had access to the hotel’s Executive Lounge were we ate breakfast daily, and drank happy hour wine and an afternoon espresso drink each day – all complimentary which further saved us a great deal of money. A British pound was at the time equivalent to $1.46US.
|Marriott Park Lane - London|
After arriving at Heathrow Airport and caught the Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station, 32 kilometers, or about 20 miles away. Paddington has been the London terminus of the Great Western Railway and its successors since 1838. The high speed airport ‘shuttle’ trains leave the depart every 15 minutes. More than 16,000 passengers use the train daily.
Catching the train was a snap as they’ve simplified that process since the last time we’d visited London. A young woman was standing just outside baggage claim selling train tickets and we had only to follow signs posted in the airport to find the train platform. Two round-trip train tickets: $105US
|Heathrow Express at Paddington Station|
From Paddington it was a short taxi ride to the hotel. Once settled in to our room, we set off to explore. We walked 33.5 miles in the 4.5 days we were there and next week, we’ll show you some of our routes through London’s neighborhoods.
|A London Park|
Before signing off this week, we want to thank all of you who wrote emails or comments on last week’s post about The Scout’s trip through the medical worlds of Greece and the U.S. Your kind wishes and ‘sighs of relief’ were most welcome.
Those ‘medical moments’ whether experienced at home or while traveling do make travel experiences just a bit more precious. Booking a one-way trip instead of round-trip because you don’t know when you will be able to return was a good reminder to us to keep traveling as far and wide as we can – while we can! In other words:
Hope to see you all back here next week! Until then safe and healthy travels to you and yours~
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